New York and New Jersey attorney Edward A. Kopelson has a solid record of effective representation in cases of disability discrimination.

Cases in Point

The following case summaries illustrate Edward Kopelson’s experience and capabilities in representing persons with disabilities for: Employment Discrimination | Government Services | Public Accommodations | Housing

Note: The parties are not named because of settlement confidentiality agreements and/or protection of identities.

Employment Discrimination

  1. A city health inspector was terminated when his driver's license was suspended following an epileptic seizure. The city claimed a driver's license was essential for visiting inspection sites. Mr. Kopelson convinced a jury that the inspector could do his job equally well by bicycling or walking to sites, since most were within a half-mile of his office. The city was ordered to reinstate the inspector and pay him for all time out of work, plus an additional $100,000 awarded by the jury.
  2. A supermarket cashier was fired after she returned from family leave to care for a dying relative. She filed suit and her case went to trial. A settlement was reached after Mr. Kopelson proved she was fired by a manager who very likely forged her call-out records upon learning her relative died of AIDS. The cashier was reinstated and received a substantial sum of money.
  3. A public school teacher who had mild seizures was reassigned to another school farther from her home. She did not drive and no direct public transportation was available. Also, when she had seizures at school, the principal insisted she be taken to the hospital by ambulance, despite having a doctor’s letter saying it was unnecessary. In a settlement negotiated by Mr. Kopelson, the Board of Education agreed to cancel her reassignment, repay her hospital co-pays, and have school employees trained to respond to her seizures.
  4. A hospital clerical worker with scoliosis had to quit work due to excessive pain after the hospital delayed getting her an ergonomic chair for 15 months. She sued her former employer and at the start of her trial, the hospital agreed to pay her a sizable sum to settle the case.
  5. A city librarian was diagnosed with spinal stenosis and provided her employer with medical clearance to return to work. However, repetitive medical examinations required by the city had kept her from resuming work for nearly 2 years when she retained Mr. Kopelson. As her case went to trial, she agreed to accept her lost income and reinstatement as settlement.
  6. A truck mechanic for a delivery service was demoted to a parts department position after having a seizure at work. Following negotiations by Mr. Kopelson, the mechanic was reinstated to his prior position.
  7. A school teacher was denied a resource room assignment and accommodations needed due to adult-onset blindness. Through a lawsuit filed by Mr. Kopelson, the teacher subsequently obtained both the assignment and necessary accommodations.

Government Services

  1. When a paraplegic wheelchair user was arrested for overdue child support, he was held for 32 hours in the county jail without access to any accessible facilities. Mr. Kopelson worked out a $75,000 settlement which also required the county to install accessible features in its jail and transfer all wheelchair/scooter users to the closest ADA compliant facility within four hours of arrival at the jail.
  2. Mr. Kopelson helped a NJ state employee obtain a reversal of the denial of health insurance coverage for her son because of his total disability due to schizophrenia. A court rejected the State’s argument that it would create a greater administrative burden to evaluate mental illness than to evaluate mental retardation, and accepted Mr. Kopelson’s argument that it is unjust to use the cause of disability to deny a benefit intended for persons who are totally disabled.
  3. A municipal first aid squad refused to accommodate a certified EMT who had difficulty lifting due to cerebral palsy. She had requested to work only on 3-person crews, but the squad claimed she would be a danger to others on any crew. A settlement negotiated by Mr. Kopelson resulted in a change in squad policies, requiring individualized medical assessments of any volunteer with a disability who the squad may reject, and a significant payment of damages to the EMT for having been humiliated by the unlawful discrimination.

Public Accommodations

  1. After a visually impaired wheelchair user complained to a theater manager about wheelchair viewing spaces only in the rear rows, he contacted Mr. Kopelson about accessibility problems at the theater. As a result, the theater operator created dispersed wheelchair seating spaces throughout each auditorium; modified the bathrooms to provide accessible stalls, sinks, dispensers and doors; lowered sections of the concession counter; and made the elevator independently operable.
  2. A hotel which provided free shuttle services told a wheelchair user, who had reserved a guest room to attend a nearby wedding, that hotel staff would lift her into and out of its shuttle van because it did not have a ramp or lift-equipped vehicle. The woman was referred to Mr. Kopelson early enough before the event for him to convince the hotel to comply with the ADA. On the day of the wedding, the hotel rented a wheelchair-accessible van to transport the woman.
  3. A blind woman with a guide dog received $2,500 from a restaurant which refused to allow her dog inside – despite being shown proof that the dog was a service animal and a copy of the New Jersey law requiring businesses to admit service animals.
  4. A quadriplegic wheelchair user was treated by a doctor in a hospital emergency room. Several months later, the doctor sent a letter advising her to see him for a check-up. When she called for an appointment, she was told his office did not have an adjustable-height examining table or hoyer lift, and staff could not assist her aide. Instead, the doctor suggested the check-up be done at the hospital, where she’d have to pay for use of a room. After being contacted by Mr. Kopelson, the doctor agreed to accommodate her with an adjustable table or lift at his office.
  5. An exercise gym refused to make simple structural modifications to certain fitness machines in order to accommodate a wheelchair user who wished to join the gym. Mr. Kopelson succeeded in getting the gym to modify two machines so they could be accessed and utilized by the wheelchair user.
  6. A wheelchair user contacted Mr. Kopelson because her doctor's office, which was located in a strip mall, was difficult to access. The handicapped parking was incorrectly sized and marked, and the curb cuts were too steep. Mr. Kopelson sued the property owner, who insisted no handicap accommodations were necessary since the strip mall was built before the ADA. After months of litigation, the owner agreed to a settlement requiring him to provide proper handicap parking and curb cuts, as well as pay the wheelchair user $2,500.
  7. In 1998, Mr. Kopelson represented four wheelchair users angered by inadequate wheelchair seating, handicapped parking and other inaccessible features of Yankee Stadium. A lawsuit was filed, which was subsequently joined by the U.S. Department of Justice. A settlement was reached in 1999, requiring commitment of over $1.5 million to create many new wheelchair seating options and make numerous improvements to handicap parking, concession areas, bathrooms and other aspects of the stadium.

Housing

  1. A tenant suffering from depression and anxiety contacted Mr. Kopelson when the man’s landlord sued to evict him for keeping a dog in a “no pets” building. Although the dog was not a certified “companion” animal, the Court held that the landlord must reasonably accommodate the tenant’s need for his dog’s companionship and refused to evict them.
  2. A homeowner had installed a temporary ramp to her front door and was ordered by the township to remove it for violating zoning regulations. Following efforts by Mr. Kopelson, the township granted the homeowner a variance permitting construction of a permanent ramp.
  3. A couple who owned a condominium were represented by Mr. Kopelson in a suit against the condominium developer and association regarding access to the parking garage and building. As a result, the couple obtained priority placement on the waiting list for garage parking, a reserved and conveniently located parking space outside until one was available in the garage, a permanent interior ramp into the garage, as well as automatic entry doors to the building.

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